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Rishi Sunak is the “tax cut chancellor” who actually didn’t cut taxes

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For those of us who don’t quite understand why Putin is stopping a British Prime Minister from bombing Ukraine because he almost certainly broke the law and then lied about it in the House of Commons, there are some sudden signs of cautious optimism.

With far more egregious events unfolding elsewhere, questioning of Johnson’s own personal egregiousness had somehow disappeared, but due to frankly poor scheduling by those in charge, the Conservatives have foolishly allowed their own spring conference to be held in Blackpool. That was exactly one day ago, and the slogan above the lectern might as well be: “No, we really are like this. Did you forget?”

Rishi Sunak was the first. “My priority is tax cuts,” he said, just as he said on the November budget, where he announced and prompted the biggest peacetime tax hikes in decades The Daily Telegraph calling the speech “the death of conservatism”.

Knowing exactly what’s going on with Sunak is never easy, especially since he’s a lot less smart than he thinks he is. There’s probably a part of him that genuinely believes he’s actually cutting taxes, even if he’s raising them to their highest level since the end of World War II.

And even as he goes ahead with increases in social security contributions that will cost ordinary families hundreds of pounds a year in the face of an unprecedented energy crisis and Europe’s first major war in 80 years, he is really doing so at the same time as speaking about his mission: his great faith of tax cuts.

It’s not easy to see how he’s going to get away with this (other than inevitably cutting them again before the election). In politics you usually get away with saying one thing and doing exactly the other, but people tend to notice when their net monthly salary goes down and that’s clearly because the Chancellor, who loves to pay taxes lowering them, accidentally increasing them again and again.

Oliver Dowden, the party leader and top culture campaigner, has welcomed literally dozens of Blackpool delegates, telling them the British people want to see “a little more conservative pragmatism and a little less net-zero dogma”.

And that’s no doubt a bit of conservative pragmatism on the part of the chairman himself, in the sense that barely months ago he was personally splurging at COP26, making big public statements about the number of tech companies he’d convinced to sign, all the way to “Net Zero.” ‘ which doesn’t seem to interest anyone anymore, so don’t worry, neither does Oliver Dowden.

Matt Hancock, meanwhile, is still trying to make Matt Hancock a reality, this time positioning himself as the frontman for Ukraine’s refugee efforts and making as public as possible his increasingly desperate attempt to open his new home to as many refugees as he possibly can.

Oh, Matt, around 200,000 Brits have signed up to welcome Ukrainian refugees. And what Matt Hancock has in common with absolutely everyone is that he is in no way in government. All that sets him apart from the other 200,000 selfless individuals is that he is the only one who has been avidly disseminating opinions and conducting television interviews about his own selflessness, as Richard Madeley wasted absolutely no time in telling him.

If the war in Ukraine has upset Johnson, you’d think the average cabinet minister would have the sense not to publicly admit it, at the very least. After all, people are dying by the thousands. But enter Jacob Rees-Mogg, for whom breaking public safety rules of your own making and then lying about them has now been exposed as the “fluff” it always was.

Does it need to be pointed out that 150,000 people have died and absolutely all of them lived very miserable lives for a very long time to keep that horrible number down and that something like that isn’t really fluffy?

Probably not. Nor is it worth revisiting one of the ongoing storylines of the past six years, which is that whatever Rees-Mogg seems to do in public is self-embarrassing.

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Meanwhile, Peter Cruddas – the former Tory party treasurer whose peerage last year was in no way linked to the vast amounts of his own private treasury the party continues to receive – was on the radio. Boris Johnson, he says, “is the best thing that has happened to this country in a generation.”

You see, it’s never easy to know exactly what a generation means, not least since Johnson prematurely killed one and personally fathered another, and each of us is entitled to our opinion.

If he thinks Johnson is better than the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, better than Covid and better than the first major European land war since the 1940s, then perhaps we will concede that it might at least be a photo target.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/rishi-sunak-statement-tax-cuts-b2039191.html Rishi Sunak is the “tax cut chancellor” who actually didn’t cut taxes

Caroline Bleakley

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